How to choose the right safety cabinet

All Safety Cabinets are not created equal. There are different styles, different capacities, different materials and different colors (used to identify the content of the cabinet).

Which one you select is going to depend largely on what you are going to be storing in it. Fortunately Justrite has made it a lot easier with it’s Safety Cabinet Selection Chart that lists the most common chemicals and lets you know which cabinet you should select.

Download the Safety Cabinet Selection Chart

Select your safety cabinet from the material handling section of our website. The different categories are:

If you need help selecting the right cabinet or if the chemical you are looking to store is not listed on the selection chart, please call us at (800) 213-7092 and we will be glad to assist you.

Free Sample of Max and Max Small Earplugs

As the saying goes,
“One size earplug does not fit all size ears.”

Howard Leight MAX UncordedIntroducing MAX Small. Howard Leight MAX Small Uncorded
Sometimes even the tightest rolled-down earplug won’t fit comfortably in the smallest of ear canals. Fitting ear canals of all shapes and sizes doesn’t  have to be difficult. That’s why we created the MAX Small single-use earplug, delivering the same comfort as our flagship MAX, in a 20% smaller size.

Try both MAX and MAX Small on for size!

Click here to receive a complementary sample pack!

March 12-16 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week

FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration) are partnering again this year to help promote National Flood Safety Awareness Week.

Truth is that of all the natural disasters, floods are by far the most common and cause millions of dollars of damage each year as well as claiming numerous lives and not all floods are equal. Flash floods, which occur when massive amounts of rain fall in a very short period of time, will often produce dangerous rapids and walls of water that carry with it debris, logs, rocks, etc… When flash floods occur after a long period without rain they can be especially dangerous because the ground has hardened and takes longer to soften up enough to soak up the rain. Overland floods are the most common type of flood and occur when rivers overflow their banks causing millions of gallons of water to suddenly pour into low lying areas.

Even if you think your house or place of business is immune, you might be surprised. Additionally, being prepared and ready is important in order to help others in times of emergency.

Check out the FEMA Flood awareness page for more information on the causes of flooding, how and where to drive (and not drive) when flooding occurs, what to do before a flood, what to do during a flood, what to do after a flood as well as flood maps and information on getting flood insurance.

The FEMA website also includes a “Cost of Flooding tool”, a “Flood Risk Assessment tool”, a test to find out if you are ready as well as countless other resources, flyers, posters and other materials.

Taking the time now to study up, learn and be prepared can make an important difference when (not if) you end up dealing with a flooding situation.

Tornado Awareness Safety Tips

March is the fifth year anniversary (March 23) of the Clovis and Logan tornados. With the recent deadly tornado outbreak this week in the Midwest, we can officially say Tornado and Severe Weather season is here, it may not seem like it in Eastern NM and West Texas because of the warm temperatures and drought, but it is that time of year. Storms have devastated parts of Branson Missouri, Illinois, and other parts of the United States already this year. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard.

Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.

With severe weather season here, New Mexico and Texas Local Emergency Management, Local TV Weather Stations and the National Weather Service want you to be prepared for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Take some time to make a tornado plan for your family, friends and co-workers. (See the Safety Matters Website for your Designated Tornado Location)  Planning ahead will lower the chance of injury or even death in the event a tornado strikes. Again, Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning. You may have only a minute’s time to make life-or-death decisions. It is important to know the basics of tornado safety so that you can survive should one strike. (Clovis, Logan, Plainview, Roswell, Clayton and Tucumcari all have had tornados in the past years)

Listen to the local radio, local television, The Weather Channel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio for information or our Alert Siren at Clovis HQ.

A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for the formation of a Tornado.

A Tornado Warning means a Tornado/Funnel Cloud has been spotted or is indicated on Doppler radar by the National Weather Service.

If you are under a Tornado WARNING, seek shelter immediately!





 Don’t wait until a warning is issued to begin planning how you will respond. Take responsibility for your safety.

  • Have a plan.
  • Meet with household members and co workers to discuss how to respond to an approaching tornado.
  • Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
  • The safest place to be during a tornado is underground in a basement or storm cellar.
  • If you have no basement, go to an interior hallway or smaller interior room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Go to the center of the room.
  • Get under something sturdy such as a table.
  • Curl up in a ball using your hands and arms to protect your head and neck.

Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to damage from high winds. Residents, even those who live in mobile homes with tie-downs, should seek safe shelter when a tornado threatens. Go to a prearranged shelter when the weather turns bad. If you live in a mobile home park, talk to management about the availability of a nearby shelter. If no shelter is available, go outside and lie on the ground, if possible in a ditch or depression. Use your arms to protect your head and neck and wait for the storm to pass. While waiting, be alert for the flash floods that sometimes accompany tornadoes.

Never try to outrun a tornado in a car. A tornado can toss cars and trucks around like toys. If you see a funnel cloud or hear a tornado warning issued, get out of your vehicle and find safe shelter. If no shelter is available, lie down in a low area using your arms to cover the back of your head and neck. Be sure to stay alert for flooding.

Hail indicators and Tornados. A lot of tornado storms have hail as a good indicator as to likelihood of a tornado in a hail storm here are a few indicators to look for:

Dime size hail                            5-10 % chance of a tornado forming in this storm

Quarter size hail             20-25% chance of a tornado forming in this storm

Golf ball size hail                       40-50% chance of a tornado forming in this storm (RED FLAG You should start watching for any rotation with these storms)

Baseball or larger size hail       80-90% chance of a tornado forming in this storm (EXTREME CAUTION tornados are VERY PROBABLE with these storms)

How Do Tornadoes Form?

 Before thunderstorms develop, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height create an invisible, horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere.  Rising air within the thunderstorm updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical.  An area of rotation, 2-6 miles wide, now extends through much of the storm. Most strong and violent tornadoes form within this area of strong rotation.

Woodward OKA lower cloud base in the center of the photograph identifies an area of rotation known as a rotating wall cloud. This area is often nearly rain-free. Note rain in the background.

Woodward OKMoments later a strong tornado develops in this area. Softball-size hail and damaging “straight-line” winds also occurred with this storm.

Tornadoes Cause Damage in Three Ways.

Strong Winds

The strong winds of a tornado can rip just about anything off of the ground including trees, vehicles, and even houses. The winds inside of tornadoes travel at over 310 miles per hour. Even weak tornadoes can pull shingles and siding off houses.


The second damaging effect of tornadoes is actually from the debris that the storm picks up. People have been buried alive by houses or mud picked up and then dropped by a tornado. Smaller objects become damaging projectiles when thrown by tornadoes. One tornado took a broom handle and penetrated through an oak tree!

Hail and Lightning

It is not only the wind that causes damage in a tornado, but also the hail and lightning that the storm produces. Large hailstones can damage cars or property and injure people and lighting can cause fires and electrical problems.

Be alert to what is happening outside. Here are some tornado danger signs:

  • If there is a watch or warning posted, falling hail should be considered as a danger sign.
  • An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado, even if a funnel is not visible.
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Here is a quick reference chart to use to take shelter before or during a tornado:

If you are in:


A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building) Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.DO NOT open your windows! You won’t save the house, as once thought, and you may actually make things worse by giving wind and rain a chance to get inside.
A vehicle, trailer, or mobile home Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. Cars are no match for these powerful winds. For tornadoes, get out of your car immediately and seek shelter. Don’t try to race it. Tornadoes are fast and very erratic. If you can’t find shelter, find a low-lying area, lie flat and cover your head. You’re safer out of your car than in it. Over half the people killed in previous years tried to seek shelter in cars!!!
The outside with no shelter Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

Tornado Facts

Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air extending from severe thunderstorms to the ground.

Tornadoes usually are preceded by very heavy rain and possibly hail. If hail falls from a thunderstorm, it is an indication that the storm has large amounts of energy and may be severe. In general, the larger the hailstones, the more potential for damaging thunderstorm winds and/or tornadoes.

The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction, with wind speeds of 250 M.P.H. or more.

An average tornado damage path is one to two miles long, but can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.

Widths vary considerably during a single tornado, from less than ten yards to more than a mile, but typically are about 50 yards wide.

The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, though tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.

The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 m.p.h. but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 m.p.h.

Tornadoes can occur throughout the year; however, the peak season in New Mexico and Texas is March through June.

Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., but have been known to occur at all hours of the day or night.

The NWS is now using Doppler weather radar to sense the air movement within thunderstorms. Early detection of increasing rotation aloft within a thunderstorm can allow time for lifesaving warnings before the tornado forms.

The Great Plains of the Central United States are uniquely suited to bring all of these ingredients together, and so have become known as “Tornado Alley.” The main factors are the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and a terrain that slopes downward from west to east.

During the spring and summer month’s southerly winds prevail across the plains. At the origin of those south winds lie the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which provide plenty of warm, humid air needed to fuel severe thunderstorm development. Hot dry air forms over the higher elevations to the west, and becomes the cap as it spreads eastward over the moist Gulf air. Where the dry air and the Gulf air meet near the ground, a boundary known as a dry line forms to the west of Oklahoma. A storm system moving out of the southern Rockies may push the dry line eastward, with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes forming along the dry line or in the moist air just ahead of it.

Below are two maps of average tornado wind speeds and recent (2011) tornado activity:

Photo: Clovis NM Tornado Damage March 2007

Tornado StatisticsDr. T. Theodore Fujita first introduced The Fujita Scale in the SMRP Research Paper, Number 91, published in February 1971 and titled, “Proposed Characterization of Tornadoes and Hurricanes by Area and Intensity“. Fujita revealed in the abstract his dreams and intentions of the F-Scale. He wanted something that categorized each tornado by intensity and area. The scale was divided into categories:

A modification of the original Fujita Scale developed by “Dr. Tornado”, T. Theodore Fujita of the University of Chicago.

New EF Scale:

Old F-Scale:

Typical Damage:

EF0 (65-85 mph)

F0 (65-73 mph)

Light damage. Peels surface off some roofs; some damage to gutters or siding; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over.

EF1 (86-110 mph)

F1 (73-112 mph)

Moderate damage. Roofs severely stripped; mobile homes overturned or badly damaged; loss of exterior doors; windows and other glass broken.

EF2(111-135 mph)

F2 (113-157 mph)

Considerable damage. Roofs torn off well-constructed houses; foundations of frame homes shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground.

EF3 (136-165 mph)

F3 (158-206 mph)

Severe damage. Entire stories of well-constructed houses destroyed; severe damage to large buildings such as shopping malls; trains overturned; trees debarked; heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown; structures with weak foundations blown away some distance.

EF4 (166-200 mph)

F4 (207-260 mph)

Devastating damage. Whole frame houses Well-constructed houses and whole frame houses completely leveled; cars thrown and small missiles generated.

EF5 (>200 mph)

F5 (261-318 mph)

Incredible damage. Strong frame houses leveled off foundations and swept away; automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 m (109 yd); high-rise buildings have significant structural deformation; incredible phenomena will occur.

EF No rating

F6-F12 (319 mph to speed of sound)

Inconceivable damage. Should a tornado with the maximum wind speed in excess of F5 occur, the extent and types of damage may not be conceived. A number of missiles such as iceboxes, water heaters, storage tanks, automobiles, etc.will create serious secondary damage on structures.

Photo: Clovis NM Tornado Damage March 2007

Severe Weather Preparations

Everyone should consider the following tornado/high wind tips:

Stock disaster supplies: portable phones, batteries, radio, flashlight, first aid kit, essential medicines, food, water, cash, camera, film, generator, fuel, chainsaw, sand bags, tarps.

Learn how and when to call 911, police, or the fire department and which radio station to tune for emergency information. Teach responsible parties how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.

Protect property:

Trim dead and weak branches from trees.

Bring in trash cans, lawn furniture, etc.

Clean gutters and drains.

Check roof flashing to ensure the entire roof perimeter is securely fastened.

Review your insurance policy to verify that all buildings are listed.

Establish agreements with contractors for supplies and repairs.

Photograph both building and content damage for insurance claims.

Photo: Clovis NM Tornado Damage March 2007

The aftermath

By listening to your portable radio, you’ll know when the windstorm is over (if you don’t have a radio, wait at least one half-hour after all is quiet to make sure that the storm is over). There is much to do in the aftermath of a tornado. Knowing what to do, and when, will save you time and money and help ensure your family’s safety.

Watch for potential hazards. A major storm creates a number of dangers of which you should be aware.
Weakened roads or bridges.
Broken or damaged power lines (electric, gas, etc.)
Broken glass, splintered wood and other sharp, dangerous objects.
Be smart and safe with food. Refrigerated foods will spoil quickly when electricity is out. Eat perishable foods before they get a chance to spoil. Save dry and canned foods (which have long shelf lives) for later. Also, if you keep the freezer closed, “frozen” foods will keep for several days.
Be safe about water. There is a chance that your water may be contaminated. Listen to the radio for reports and carefully inspect your water. Your best bet is to have several gallons of bottled water on hand. On the average, keep three gallons of water per family member. This will hold you for at least three days. That should be more than enough.Suggestions for a Family Disaster Supplies Kit


  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Water
  • High calorie, non-perishable food
  • First Aid kit (one for your home and one for each car)
  • Prescription and non-prescription drugs
  • Tools and supplies (paper cups, utility knife, hammer, matches, etc.)
  • Supplies to maintain sanitation (toilet paper, paper towels, household chlorine bleach)
  • Clothing and bedding
  • Necessities for babies or small children
  • Necessities for pet
  • Important family documents
  • Entertainment (games and books)

Non-perishable contents should be changed or replaced every six months.

Other Safety issues

  • Be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors.
  • Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation, and dead animals
  • Open cabinets. Be alert for objects that may fall.
  • Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.
  • Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by an electrician before turning the power back on.
  • Use battery­ powered flashlights when examining buildings—do NOT use candles.
  • Keep all of your animals under your direct control
  • Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.

Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. Knowing what to do in case of one of these weather related events is the first step to survival during a weather disaster. Remember Safety ABC’s this Spring Severe Weather Season. Always, Be Careful. Safety First, Safety Always

Want to learn more come attend Spring Severe Weather Hazards Presentation by Amarillo KVII Chief Meteorologist Steve Kersh in Clovis on March 28st either at 9:00-10:00 am or 10:00-11:00 am at our Fishbowl.

Additionally, there will be a free storm spotter’s course March 20th in Clovis and Portales. If you are interested please contact me I will get you the information.


 Photo: Clovis NM Tornado Damage March 2007



Information provided by Albq National Weather Service (Kerry Jones), NOAA and KVII Channel 7 Amarillo Chief Meteorologist Steve Kersh

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Earthquake & Tornado Preparedness tips from the American Red Cross

Posting this from an email I received from the American Red Cross

Last week, a series of devastating tornadoes ripped through parts of the Midwest and South, causing multiple fatalities and leaving many without power, food and water. And on Monday, two earthquakes rattled the San Francisco bay area, forcing a brief disruption of public transportation.

Events like these remind us that disasters can strike with little warning and disrupt whole communities, affecting the businesses, schools, employees, customers and community members we depend on.

Help your community stay safe – and your organization strong – by sharing these Earthquake Preparedness and Tornado Preparedness tips with your employees and their families and friends.

As a Ready Rating member, we know you understand the importance of preparedness. That is why were asking you to help spread the word. Tell your corporate ‘neighbors’ to visit and take the 123 Assessment.

From individuals to organizations, it takes the whole community to be prepared.


The Ready Rating Team

P.S. Now is a great time to visit Ready Rating to update your preparedness plans, retake the 123 Assessment or conduct drills and exercises to test your plans. Go to to get started.

Cell phone use and texting ban maps

I live in the state of WA. Washington is one of 10 states that have a complete ban on the use of cell phones while driving. They are also one of 35 states that now have bans on texting while driving (What the rest of the states are waiting for, I have no idea!).

If you want to find out what the laws are for your state or if you are traveling and will be passing through several states along the way, there’s a great place to find out. we show you a map giving you a color code that shows which states have a ban on all drivers, which one have a partial ban and which ones have no ban at all.

As you can see in the above screen capture, there are also buttons that will take you to other maps that show “hand-held bans”, “Young Driver Bans”, “Bus Driver Bans” or, if you prefer a more detailed, state by state table view, you can get that as well.

I’m hoping this site won’t even exist in a couple of years. We shouldn’t need it when all the maps are completely green.


Paying OSHA Citations For Not Training Workers vs. Actuallly Training Workers

Reblogged from L.A.W. Construction Safety Consultants, LLC


OSHA fines cost companies, small and large, millions of dollars each year. What some companies may not know is it’s a lot easier to have citations reduced or even deleted when you’re making an effort to maintain a safe workplace. One very important way to ensure worker safety is to schedule training for them – training which OSHA requires you to have in the first place!

Still feel like you can get around not providing training to save money? Let’s take a look at some OSHA regulations and their respective citations from construction firms this past year and compare them to how much training would have cost the employer…and I’m sure you’ll see it’s much cheaper to do the training!

OSHA Violations (Top 5 of the Yearly 10 Most Cited)

1. Scaffolding 1926.454

All persons working on a scaffold has to be trained by a qualified person in the following areas: electrical hazards, fall hazards, falling object hazards, proper use of scaffolds, proper handling of materials on scaffolds, maximum intended load on scaffold.

There is also mandatory training for those who erect, disassemble, move, operate, repair, maintain and/or inspect the scaffold. Employers are also required to have a Competent Person on site at all times when workers are on the scaffold.

Approximate cost of training for 10 employees and 1 Competent Person: $1,300

In December 2011, OSHA fined a Georgia stucco company $62,000 for having workers on a scaffold 30 feet in the air. This scaffold was missing planks, base plates and cross braces. Guardrails or other means of fall protection was not provided and workers were not trained.

$1,300 training cost vs. $62,000 in OSHA fines…which would you rather?

2. Fall Protection 1926.503

The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The employees have to be trained by a Competent Person in the following areas: nature of fall hazards (site specific), correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling and inspecting fall protection systems, the use and operation of fall protection systems to be used, the role of employees in fall protection, and much more. If the employer does not have a Competent Person in place, they may have to train someone or hire someone to fill this role.

Approximate cost of training for 10 employees and 1 Competent Person: $2,000

In June 2011, OSHA cited a Maine roofing contractor $243,000 for having workers on a steep pitch roof without fall protection. This firm has had extensive issues in the past with violations prompting OSHA to cite them with egregious willful violations.

$2,000 training cost vs. $243,000 in OSHA fines…which would you rather?

3. Hazard Communication 1910.1200

OSHA requires employers to train employees at the time they are assigned to work with a potentially hazardous chemical and when/if new chemicals are introduced to the work area.

Approximate cost of training for 10 workers: $1,200

OSHA hands out approximately 1,311 citations per year to companies for not having a Hazard Communication Plan in place, not training employees and failure to maintain Material Safety Data Sheets. Average fines can cost $281.00 per violation.

4. Respiratory Protection 1926.103

OSHA requires all employers who require or use chemicals which require employees to wear a respirator to implement a respiratory protection plan, train employees on the plan, fit test employees, proper use and maintenance of respirators and have a Program Administrator in place who is properly trained. This person may be a new hire, newly trained employee or a consultant hired by the company.

Approximate cost of training for 10 workers: $2,500

In June 2011, OSHA fined a dairy farm in Wisconsin $70,000 for employee overexposure to respirable dust, failure to implement a respiratory protection plan amongst other issues.

5. Ladders 1926.1050

Ladder training is probably the easiest and cheapest training a company can schedule for their employees. But OSHA estimates there are 24,882 injuries and as many as 36 fatalities per year due to falls from stairways and ladders used in construction.

OSHA requires all employers to train their employees on hot to properly use ladders and recognize fall hazards from ladders and stairs. Workers also need to know not to use defective ladders as well as how to remove and/or destroy ladders.

This training can be done at very little cost to no cost to employers – a Tool Box Talk found on the internet can fulfill the training requirement.

In May 2011, OSHA cited a contractor a total of $139,260 of proposed fines for numerous issues including worker on damaged 32-foot extension ladder, ladder not set up properly, ladder unsecured, ladder not inspected prior to use, ladder set up on a pile of debris.

30 minutes of your time and worker attention vs. $139,260 in OSHA fines…which would you rather?

Here’s an interesting fact from OSHA if you’re still not convinced that an effective training program for your employees can save you money: “An effective health and safety program forms the basis of good worker protection and can save time and money – about $4 for every dollar spent – and increase productivity and reduce worker injuries, illnesses and related workers’ compensation costs.”

The approximate costs depicted in this posting are what I normally charge my clients. I haven’t looked to see what other consulting firms charge but keep in mind, you get what you pay for. Some trainers are really good and some are really bad. Make sure you do your research before attending any training classes or sending your employees to training.

To discuss training packages for your specific needs, contact L.A.W. Construction Safety Consultants today at 404-961-7678. We look forward to hearing from you!

Railroad Crossing and Train Awareness

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety


Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit, international, public education program first established in 1972 to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad rights-of-way.

Operation Lifesaver programs are supported by a wide variety of partners, including federal, state, and local government agencies, highway safety organizations, law enforcement, the nation’s railroads and their suppliers.

One of the initiatives the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is undertaking to save lives on the Nation’s highways is to intensify our focus on highway-rail grade crossing safety. FMCSA has launched a nationwide educational campaign to remind commercial motor vehicle drivers of the precautions they must take at highway-rail grade crossings.

A highway-rail grade crossing is an intersection where a roadway crosses railroad tracks at the same level or grade. Such crossings may be encountered on both public and private roads. There are more than 250,000 such crossings in the U.S.

Although the highway safety picture has improved considerably over the last decade, 300-400 people are killed every year and more than 1,100 are injured at grade crossings. Of the more than 3,000 highway-rail grade crossing incidents annually, 700 involve trucks or tractor-trailers. This translates to an average of more than 13 per week. Although collisions involving buses at grade crossings are infrequent, results of such incidents can be tragic.

And, remember: When you see tracks, “Always Expect a Train”!

Driving Safety Tips

Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 numbers posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.

Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.

Do not get trapped on the tracks. Only proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing. If you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is four feet wider than the racks on both sides.

If your vehicle ever stalls on a track while a train’s coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction the train is coming from. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris.

At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching in either direction.

ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.

Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That’s 18 football fields!

Do not be fooled — the train you see is closer and faster moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.

When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember that it isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.

Know Your Rail Signs & Signals

There are both active and passive warning devices that are widely used. Passive signs and active traffic control devices are installed along the roads near the railroad tracks to regulate, warn or guide traffic. They alert drivers to the presence of railroad tracks and to the possibility of an approaching train. These signs and devices also provide a safety message and remind the driver of the laws regarding highway-rail grade crossings. What follows is a list of various signs and devices that you will see in connection with highway-rail grade crossings:

Passive Signs IN ADVANCE of Railroad Crossings

These are non-electric signs that warn the motorist the road ahead crosses the railroad tracks.

1. Yellow Circular Advance Warning sign warns drivers that the road crosses railroad tracks ahead. It reminds the driver to slow down, look and listen for a train and be prepared to stop if a train is approaching.
2.   Pavement Markings on paved roads near the yellow Circular Advance Warning sign also alert drivers that the road crosses railroad tracks ahead.
3.   A Stop Line painted across the lane on paved roads identifies the safe place to stop and look for an approaching train. On gravel roads there are no Pavement Markings or Stop Lines, and the driver must stop no closer than 15 feet. The yellow Diamond-Shaped Parallel Track sign identifies highway-rail intersections that appear immediately after making either a right or a left turn.
4.   The yellow Diamond-Shaped Parallel Track sign identifies highway-rail intersections that appear immediately after making either a right or a left turn.

Passive Signs AT Railroad Crossings

1. The Crossbuck sign is the most common sign at public highway-rail intersections. It has two crossed white boards with the words RAILROAD CROSSING. It marks the crossing and should be considered the same as a YIELD sign. If there is more than one track, a sign below the Crossbuck indicates the number of tracks present. After one train has passed, look and listen for another train coming from either direction. Take extra care at “passive” crossings (marked only with a Crossbuck). Always expect a train!

The STOP and YIELD signs mean the same as they do at highway intersections. A driver must always stop at the STOP sign in advance of the railroad tracks. Every driver must YIELD the right of way to a train.


At bridges, tunnels, trestle, railroad rights-of-way, and railroad yards, you will see large NO TRESPASSING signs. This means YOU. If you attempt to ride an ATV or a snowmobile, or hike on the tracks, a bridge, or a trestle or even walk near the tracks, you can be arrested and fined. But most of all it is dangerous because you never know when a train may be approaching.

Active Devices AT Railroad Crossings

1. Flashing Red Lights — with or without bells — warns of an approaching train. When the red lights are flashing, a train is approaching. Stop and wait for the train to pass, and then proceed when it is clearly safe to do so.
2.   Flashing Red Lights — with bells and gates-are used to close the road when a train approaches. It is illegal to go around the gates. Going around the gates makes the driver legally liablefor any deaths, injuries, or damage to property if a collision occurs.

Why aren’t there gates at all crossings?

Some crossings have very light vehicular traffic and trains may only pass on that corridor one or two times a week. At such crossings is may not be cost effective to install and maintain gates or lights. Decisions regarding the appropriate type of warning devices are made by the state highway officials. Gates do not prevent crashes, people do. Statistics show that approximately half of all highway-rail grade crossing incidents occur where gates and flashing lights or some active warning device is present and operational.

Pedestrian Safety

Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fine.

Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings.

It can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly spots you ahead has little chance to miss you. Railroad property is private property. For your safety, it is illegal to be there unless you are at a designated public crossing.

Trains overhang the tracks by at least four feet in both directions; they can cause a vacuum affect and pull you up under the train. Additionally, loose straps hanging from rail cars may extend even further. If you are in the right-of-way next to the tracks, you can be hit by the train.

The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with a Crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. If you cross at any other place, you are trespassing and can be ticketed or fined.

Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. A second train might be blocked by the first. Trains can come from either direction. Wait until you can see clearly around the first train in both directions.

Flashing red lights signal that a train is approaching from either direction. You can be fined for failure to obey these signals. Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing. Stay Alive! DO NOT cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing and it is safe to do so.

If you are in a rail yard uninvited, you are trespassing and subject to criminal prosecution. The worst penalty is death.

DO NOT hunt, fish or bungee jump from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass. Trestles are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges!

DO NOT attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb or your life.

Be aware trains do not follow set schedules. Any Time is Train Time!

Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks or rights-of-way or through tunnels.

Safety First, Safety Always!

Information provided by Operation Lifesaver, BNSF Safety and


Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau